The Worst Four Letter Word: LICE

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One Mom’s Harrowing Journey To A Bug Free Head

A few months ago I sat watching a Disney film for the millionth time with my daughters and noticed my little one scratching a lot.  “Dry scalp,” I thought.  More scratching. “Man, she needs a shower.” More scratching.  Little did I know that the scratching was not the normal dry skin nonsense we usually deal with in our house but the start of the worst week of our lives.  LICE.  At first glance I wasn’t sure what the tiny creepy crawly was so I did what any mom would do and hit google.  Ok, I’m sure I knew what it was but I was in denial.  Not lice.  Not in our house.  We are clean.  They have ethnic/biracial hair.  We shower and wear our hair tied back.  It can’t be.  But it was.  

Shredding The Lice Myths

I’ve heard a whole bunch of things about lice and none of them are even remotely true.  With the one outbreak in our house I was able to turn into a myth buster and debunk them all in one shot.  Myth 1:  Lice = dirty.  Nope.  We partake in the appropriate amounts of bathing and laundry in this household, yet there they were.   Myth 2: Lice stay away from hair that is tied back.  My youngest has her hair in pony tails, pig tails, braids, you name it, every day.  I wear a bun to work every day.  Yet again, they got us.  Myth crushed.  Myth 3 = lice dislike “kinky or ethnic” hair. Enter my biracial children…myth busted once again.  It’s crazy how many stories there are about how and why you can get lice.  For every story about who gets lice, there are a million crazy stories circulating on social media about how to kill these disgusting buggers once and for all.  I’m here to tell you that I played guinea pig and tested a whole bunch of those “miracle cures” and most of them didn’t do a darned thing either.  So what then? Don’t worry! Should you find yourself ready to either shave your kids head or pour a bottle of coke and vinegar over them because social media told you to, breathe.  This is beatable.  Grab some wine, you can do this.  (and please, drink the wine.  Don’t pour that, soda, listerine, or any other weird home remedy over your child’s head!)

What Worked For Us

I may have screamed, cried, or stared in disbelief when I saw that little brown bugger doing a cha-cha on my darling child’s head.  After composing myself we ran to the local pharmacy, grabbed the only bottle of lice shampoo they carried, and ran home to get started.  I followed the directions, soaked my kid’s head and started combing.  According to the directions on the overpriced bottle of hope and sanity, everything on my child’s head should have been dead after one application.  Well, as I combed through the insanely thick head of hair on my kid’s head I found lots and lots of lice laughing at me and continuing their dance party.  They were practically taunting me, “That’s all you got?  You think you can kill us with one dose of shampoo? HA!” 

That’s when I went back to google only to find terrifying articles all discussing the hideous notion of super lice.  Apparently, there is a lovely strain of lice that is fairly resistant to the pesticide-style shampoos I had just lathered all over my poor child. 

So I got to work with the tiny lice comb.  It was a lot of work and time and annoyance.  I combed every inch of my daughter’s hair multiple times.  This is my only suggestion.  Just comb and comb until you can’t comb any more.  Make sure to get a metal comb, too.  The plastic ones that come with the shampoo may have been designed to test your patience and your ability not to curse in front of your child.  If your child’s hair is anything thicker than ultra-fine peach fuzz, the plastic comb will not go through (remember that thing I said about my biracial children – yeah well their hair is insanely thick and tightly curled.)  Within two attempts to use the tiny plastic torture device, I wanted to snap it in half and throw it against the bathroom wall.  The metal comb was much better.  I actually found that having some product in the hair (like conditioner) helped because the lice got caught in the conditioner and then I was able to comb them out easier. 

Once you get everything out of your child’s hair make sure to wash everything.  EVERYTHING.  If you can’t wash it or vacuum it, throw it away.  Or at least put it in a bag in the garage for a few weeks so any last creepy crawly inside will die.  Some people recommend keeping your brushes and combs in the freezer while you are going through this ordeal because the extreme temperature will kill the lice but, sorry…eww. That grosses me out a little bit.  Just make sure to go through the combing and cleaning a few times over the next few weeks because all it takes is a few missed nits and then all of a sudden the entire stinkin’ colony is back having a dance party on their heads again. 

Lice Free and Happy as Can Be

At the end of it all, we did get rid of the lice.  It was rough, but we got through it with some hard work and a lot of time and patience.  Thank goodness for the tablet, because it kept my little one occupied while I combed and combed and combed.  Skip the tea tree oil and the other home remedies, they don’t work.  There is no quick fix, just time and hard work.  I wish you much luck and patience and an itch-free head. 

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Kristen is the proud mom of two wonderful, smart and sassy daughters (born in 2007 and 2011). Raising her kids as a single mom is a challenge and an adventure and she loves every minute of it. Kristen loves bringing up her girls in the same area of Westchester that she grew up in, having only moved a few miles from her childhood home. A long time passion for working with children led Kristen to pursue a career in education and she has been an elementary school teacher in the Bronx for over a decade. Her teaching career has taught her that every day is a new experience and to "expect the unexpected." If she can find any spare time between teaching and motherhood, Kristen likes to read, binge watch horrible romantic comedies on TV, bake, and go on road trips with her girls.